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Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Roses

Miniature Roses For the Holidays (page 2 of 3)

by Karen Dardick

Florist or Garden Minis?

To make the best use of both kinds of mini roses, it's important to know their differences. As explained above, all miniature roses have a common ancestor and so share similar genetic makeup. But through hybridization and selection, very different plants have evolved. One overly simplistic way to understand the difference between these two types of mini roses is to consider the European types as "florist" plants and the American types as "garden" plants. (Of course, there's nothing European or American about either type, and both types are grown on both continents, but the burgeoning popularity of the florist type is a European-led phenomenon.)

Florist mini roses. The primary hybridizer of florist roses is Poulsen Roser ApS, a rose company based in Denmark. Poulsen has become so successful it claims that its varieties account for almost three-fourths of all the potted florist roses sold worldwide.

Chris Pellett, the U.S. representative for Poulsen Roser Pacific, explained to me the broad characteristics that Poulsen's mini roses were bred for, namely suitability for greenhouse culture, long shelf life, uniform flower color and growth, proportionately larger flowers on the small plants, and durability for shipping. She added, "Gardeners should think of these pot plants as florist plants. Enjoy them inside while they bloom, but then plant them out in the garden. Or shear off spent blooms and replant into a slightly larger container using a lightweight potting soil."

But in reality, in Europe these plants are considered disposable, much as many of us treat chrysanthemums or poinsettias. After the blooms fade, out they go.

At Poulsen Pacific, three or four cuttings are rooted in a 4-inch pot filled with a highly porous soil mix. They're ready for sale (about $5) about three months later. This time of year, you're likely to see Poulsen's Parade strain, available in 18 colors. Choices include bronze 'Apollo Parade', pink 'Fashion Parade', and dark red 'Scarlet Parade'. The Parade strain was specifically developed for indoor use in winter. These plants are somewhat more resistant to dropping their buds and leaves in low humidity, and they can also flower in winter.

Garden mini roses. Garden minis are much more diverse than the Poulsen varieties, in terms of both growth habit and suitability to indoor growing. However, it's fair to say that they are grown much more slowly than florist minis (5 months to a year compared to 3 months), and being better established, might have a better chance of adapting to a new environment in your home. Typical garden minis have one rooted cutting to a 2-1/2-inch pot. Their price is also about $5.

The grandfather of the miniature rose business in this country is Ralph Moore, founder of Sequoia Nursery in Visalia, California. Carolyn Supinger of the nursery told me, "We always encourage our customers to enjoy their miniature roses outdoors, but we do have people, especially those in the East, who are successful if they use special growing lights and are vigilant about fighting spider mites."

As with all houseplants, inspect them carefully for pests before bringing them indoors. This is important if you buy by mail order and intend to keep and grow the plants, or if you have many other indoor plants that you don't want to expose to new pests.

As explained earlier, mini roses come in many kinds and sizes. For indoor growing, select varieties that grow no taller than 16 inches. Among the best are pink 'Baby Grand', orange 'Bambino', yellow-edged scarlet 'Chasin' Rainbows', white 'Cinderella', pink 'Cupcake', medium yellow 'Glory Be', electric pink 'Livewire', yellow with orange 'Rainbow's End', bright red 'Red Minimo', yellow 'Rise 'n' Shine', red 'Santa Claus', shrimp pink 'Shelly Renee', deep red 'Sorcerer', salmon pink 'Spice Drop', and deep orange red 'Starina'.

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